Rock Star Energy Drink “Uproar Tour”, PNC Arts Center, 8/17/13
I went to this all-day festival yesterday. A perfect day weatherwise, too.
I probably should have gone to the Peach Festival in PA, as the lineup was much more appealing to my musical tastes, but this single-day festival close to home was appealing from the logistical end of things, without a major investment (tix $24 each). Having gone to Peach Festival last year, I know that place is a bit of a challenge. So I took the path of least resistance and went to the Uproar festival.
My primary draw was the two main headliners, “Jane’s Addiction” and “Alice in Chains”. I’ve been in love with JA since the late 80’s. Although I had lost familiarity with AiC music, I knew I once liked them. And chances were good that I’d like one or two of the earlier acts in the day, even though this fest had serious leanings towards heavy metal…..a genre that only sometimes captures my interest.
We were a 4 pack of guys in my truck. We took the truck to afford a little extra cargo space in support of a tailgate party on a gorgeous day. The plan was to meet up at 11:00 and get down there with a couple of hours to party before the first band at 3:00. Without getting into too many details, I was getting a little aggravated that one of my partners-in-crime wasn’t prepared for a timely shove off. Almost an hour after scheduled departure, we were finally on the way, and suffered thru quite a bit of GSP traffic. (Had this been a much more important show to me, I assure you, I’d have been on the road at 11:00am sharp, and this one particular person would have enjoyed a view of the back of my truck, rapidly becoming smaller and smaller).
I think by 2:45 we were finally parked. A quick grill session later (kielbasa/sauerkraut sandwiches, snacks), and everyone was happy, fed, and relaxing under the shade trees in the PNC lot.
At this point, the diverging interests of my partners-in-crime became even more apparent. You see, I’m all about the music. I want to see every second of music possible at a festival. I don’t automatically believe that every opening band has to suck. I think some of these bands are hungry and working hard to make it. Their slot on such a “corporate sponsored” festival bill is a major milestone, worth checking out. Remember that even the biggest multi-platinum acts of the day were bar bands and openers once.. Socializing is certainly fun, but I didn’t commit a day, jump thru hoops, and pay $$ to sit in a parking lot and get plastered.
At 3:10, I could hear the first of the music coming from the stages, so naturally I got antsy and felt magnetically drawn inside. But my buddies were completely content with their tailgate party, so I pretty quickly jettisoned them so I could head in. (As it turned out, they drank in the lot all day, and staggered in around 7:30pm, just in time to see JA. They missed 9 of the 12 acts scheduled for the day!!! WTF!!!?? Does anybody care about the music anymore?? ). Well, they made their choices, and I refused to let it negatively impact me in any way. But it reaffirmed what I already know: Traveling solo sometimes has it’s advantages… or if nothing else: Don’t allow others to screw up your concertgoing experience!.
Anyway, I finally entered the facility at about 3:45 or so. I thought the grounds were very well supportive of the event. They sectioned off one of the closest parking lot rows normally used to park VIP guests at a standard show. This was turned it into a big rectangular “pen” where the two second stages were set directly across from each other. All 8 opening acts played here in a rapid succession of alternating sets, usually 20-30 minutes each, no breaks. Also in the “pen”, was the Rock Star Energy Drink shaded pavilion where they were giving away Free energy drinks, which proved to be a nice refreshing break from the sun. On the other side of the pen, each band had a little 10x10 merch booth where they could do their signings and sell their wares. Stage 1 was the Zippo Encore stage, which was a little bigger and had clearer sound reinforcement. Stage 2 (The Coldcock stage) was the smaller of the two, featuring an inflatable roof. I’m not sure anybody else noticed or cared, but I thought the sound at stage 2 was significantly worse.. Somehow they managed to take a small stage with 300 people in front of it, and make it sound far-away, like you were in the last row of a rainy festival attended by 25K people. Just my stupid opinion, but you couldn’t beat the convenience. All you had to do was turn around and walk 200 feet to the other stage to see the next band. In the “normal” PNC Arts Center facility, which I’ll call “The Main stage”, had plenty of interesting vending, including a couple of food trucks (since most people would have to buy dinner inside the show).
In the Pen (second stages): Unfortunately I missed the first two acts (but heard them from the parking lot). The first band I was present to see was the “Chuck Shaffer Picture show”…..who didn’t leave any major impression on me, but were enjoyable nonetheless.
The second band turned out to be my favorite of the bunch: “Middle Class Rut”, who actually sounded a bit Jane’s Addiction influenced. Heavy vocal effects with monster grooves. I loved the pair of drummers, one of which had a unique percussion array….stainless steel kegs, garbage can lids.
3rd up was “Danko Jones”. Kind of a little more “urban” metal. A Power Trio. The lead singer had a nice smooth “metal” voice, but I wished he didn’t talk between songs as I disliked his hard-assed stage persona.
“Beware of Darkness” up next, a Power Trio that was very Rush-like. I liked them a lot too.
“Walking Papers” up next. Kind of “Black Crowes” meets the “Rolling Stones”. Classic Heavy Metal Rock and Roll.
Finally “The Dead Daises”, an Aussie band that immediately conjured up AC/DC similarities. I listened to some of their set before scampering off for dinner. This was the last act in the “Pen”.
All following 4 “main” acts would be on the standard PNC Main stage. We had Lawn seats. By this time, the show was pretty well attended. Not a sell out, but a ton of people there.
“Circa Survive”. Lead vocalist kind of like Geddy Lee meets Perry Farrell. Trancelike vocals w/heavy effects. Spacey. Definitely caught my attention.
“Coheed and Cambria”. Another band I’d go see again. A 4 piece band (2 guitars, drums, bass). Progressive metal. Loved them. If I can pick one band they reminded me of most: RUSH.
“Jane’s Addiction”. I didn’t keep a setlist, but they hit us with all of their known hits. I love these guys. What else can I say! The band accompanied by two female dancer-performers.
“Alice in Chains”. I fell in love with these guys all over again. Powerful complex music, good show. Blazing light show. Interesting chord progressions.
The show was over at 10:55pm. I think most people wanted more music from the main headliners, but you should have gone in knowing what to expect. Unlike GotV where each act was given the chance to do their full show, this was more of a sampling of every band. I was OK with this.
My hat’s off to the stagehands and crew who pulled this festival off. The published music schedule was adhered to like clockwork. You seriously could have set your watch to this production. No sound problems at all. A pretty slick festival.
Overall, I give this festival a thumbs up. Very well run. Nice array of music. I definitely got more than my money’s worth, and found a couple of bands to dig in further with. My favorites of the day “Middle Class Rut”, “Coheed & Cambria”, JA, and AiC.
We did a part 2 of the tailgate party at the truck with some roast beef/provolone sandwiches, and were promptly chased out of there by the state police. Home at 12:30am.